The hotel provided breakfast, which by all appearances just seemed to be an American-styled buffet. After a quick bite, I headed up the street to Larnaka Ink Tattoos for my appointment with Pavlianna. I will go into more detail in a different post, but I was very pleased with the customer service and the end product from here.
Having my arm freshly stabbed many times and wrapped in plastic wrap was not my idea of a good afternoon, but it will be worth it, for sure. On my way home, I saw a great little jewelry shop. The lady helped me pick out a Medusa pendant to represent my time in Cyprus. She said the mythologies mention Cyprus, but I can’t seem to find any connection. Oh well. It is still a cool necklace.
I grabbed my stuff and loaded back in the Milk Dud, my rental car. I had no clue what to really expect when I crossed the border into the occupied side of Cyprus. As I drove, I had some interesting experiences with radio stations. They range from Greek, to American pop, to British, to Russian. This is all within an hour of driving. The border seemed very run-down. I stopped my car and purchased insurance, then handed my passport to the customs officer. They don’t do stamps anymore, and the whole process should be revamped, but I quickly realized that this was par for the course for the whole country.
Greek Cyprus has a fun, relaxed vibe filled with wonder and sea spray. The people seem ready to enjoy life. The restaurants was you to sit back and relax. The area is full of churches and history (that survived the multiple invasions). By contrast, the Turkish side, is seemingly crumbling. The buildings aren’t cared for, the roads are dilapidated. The infrastructure is literally returning to the earth. Even Google maps was having difficulties routing my way because roads just didn’t exist anymore. The streets are lined with mosques and signs that are hanging onto poles by mere tape. I continued through because I needed to experience the Ancient City of Salamis.
I finally made it to the coast and paid my entrance fee. The ruins were quite magnificent. And I was all alone. Once again, I felt like a solo explorer. Luckily there was another visitor who took my picture. I don’t really like doing selfies all the time.
After the ruins, I hit up a little beachside restaurant for a quick bite before heading back to Nicosia and Greek Cyprus. As I departed, I stopped by St Barnabas Monastery. The building was beautiful and the inside had a reverence to it. I was glad that the invaders hadn’t destroyed this church. As I looked at the map, I realized, I could swing by and check out St Hilarion Castle in the northern mountains. Sadly, the Turkish military has decided to close this site early, so I was turned away after winding through 30 minutes of mountains. Finally I was back near the south. Turns out that the spot I was heading in Nicosia was actually in the Greek side.
Even though I couldn’t make it to St Hilarion, I got a cool shot off the mountain.
As I hit the checkpoint, I was told I had to go to a different checkpoint. So I had to weave through this ancient walled city to find the next gate. Just in time, I found parking and hit up BrewFellas. This place really had a good selection of international beers, especially for the fact that they are on a tiny island in the eastern Mediterranean sea. From there, I stopped by Pivo (πίβο) Microbrewery. The owners are very nice, and they are making some good beer. Their pilsner had a lovely aromatic nose to it, almost lavender. While their Hoppy drank like an American IPA. Great job guys.
Being back in the Greek side of Cyprus, I did notice one thing: my T-Mobile phone worked way better in the Turkish side… like full on 4G. Weird that everything else was so run down.
I now just had a quick leg down to Larnaka to meet up with this awesome girl I had met on the beachwalk the day before. We were going to hang out and have some local wine. Traffic coming into Larnaka was no joke, but I made it back in time, don’t you worry. Anna had recently come to Cyprus, and she was quite a cool girl. Once again, Cyprus is like a magnet for beautiful, fun people. Not only was she gorgeous, but she also knew about computers and programming. Where were girls like this when I was in engineering school? Wait, who am I kidding? I went to SMU, even our engineers are gorgeous. Sadly, I knew I had to leave the next day, but it was still fun to actually be able to talk with a girl (actions that are forbidden where I currently live).
After having driven through the northern side, I was quite sad about what is happening on Cyprus. The temperament of the displaced locals is tense for sure. The interesting thing is that, even though they are driven from their homes, they have actually created new thriving cities in the south. Meanwhile, the northern side crumbles. It is definitely worth the visit, if you come to the island. But I will not be returning. The many soldiers with the loaded weapons are quick to aim at your car and tell you to leave. Yes sir, I will do just that.